Try Try Again

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This, my friends, is the time I tried to make a cake using almond flour. See, I bought this bag of almond flour back in December to surprise my mom with Christmas macarons (seen here, 4th food photo down). I made macarons three times before making her gift, and every time I got it wrong. Even the end result was far less than perfect (as you can see!); no matter what I did, I could not make them look the way they were supposed to look. Since then, the almond flour has been sitting around in the fridge, wasting away.  So I decided, the hell with macarons, I’m going to make a cake! I read online that you could replace the flour in any recipe with it, but it’s heaviness required more of the rising agent….so I used my favorite yellow cake recipe and doubled the baking powder (2 tsp instead of 1). Ka boom! Bad idea.

After the cake mess, I started feeling like a failure, and I started to worry that my future endeavors would have the same sad ending.
I know there are tentative chefs and bakers out there who might see their failure as a sign they aren’t cut out for making food. I felt that way with macarons! I tried and tried and tried, and it broke my heart to see website after website showing off their perfect macarons.  The only way to move on is to realize your strengths.  I make dynamite pies, and countless other things that have had people clamoring for a taste.  So what if macarons aren’t my forte?
I also realized that others fail too, all the time, even successful chefs that I admire.  Working as a baker, more than anything I have learned that we learn from our mistakes, and that I am still so young in my quest to be a great chef.  It is part of the human condition to compare our lives to others and wonder why we don’t seem to be doing as well.  A quote I have heard around the interwebs says it succinctly:
“One reason we struggle with insecurity: we’re comparing our behind the scenes to everyone else’s highlight reel.”

So that night, after I cleaned up the cake pans and scraped the cake off the cookie sheet, I pushed on and made dinner. Pasta with homemade Caesar dressing and homemade croutons!
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Then I wondered if maybe I’m just better at cooking than baking. After all, cooking is an art, while baking is a science. But what’s more scientific than homemade marshmallow creme???
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Mmmm, s’mores sandwiches for life!!!

My point is, we have to keep trying. Try, try again. And again and again! Only those who never give up succeed.

Love,
Feisty

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You Need a Pita

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Anything that can double as a pizza crust and a sandwich bread is a prized item in my kitchen. As one of my culinary heroes, Alton Brown, attests to, kitchen tools with multiple functions is always better. Sure, he was talking about using your garlic press for something other than pressing garlic (which is apparently a lost cause…)* but when I’m making meals, prepackaged items can be tools as well.

For example, though I originally bought these to make a portobello & feta pizza, with only two mouths to feed, I had plenty of pitas left over. Enter, homemade chicken salad. Someday I will make it again and post my recipe–it was so delicious! Cut open the pita like you would a bagel, and boom.   A pita pocket perfect for your favorite filling.

Or maybe one day you want something for lunch that isn’t a sandwich, and you create a masterpiece personal pizza! I spread some barbecue sauce (all I had–tomato sauce would work too of course!) over the pita, topped it with some sliced tomato and red onion, and then sprinkled small slices of Monterey Jack cheese. Top with some dried oregano and garlic powder, bake in oven until cheese melts and then place under broiler until golden brown.
These are my favorite moments in the kitchen; no recipes, just intuitive flavors and throwing in whatever is available. Feisty worthy food, and lots of fun too. 😉

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*As far as I can tell, there’s not many more uses for the garlic press, and most professional chefs consider it “useless.”  Though it is true that pressing garlic with a knife and then slicing it will result in essentially the same thing, I love the way my garlic press discards the skin and presses the garlic directly into the pot or pan with the appearance of the garlic you can buy already pressed in a jar.  For now, my garlic press has a permanent place in my ever expanding kitchen. 😉

Poulet Parfait

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Cooking meat is not my specialty. I can bake with the best of them and make a mean risotto, but cooking meat until its done (not over or under) has always been a challenge. I aim for rare with steak and I get well done; I aim for juicy and moist chicken breast and I get an alarming pink center. However, recently I have been cooking beautiful, moist chicken breasts, without a hint of pink. If you struggle like me, then I am here to tell you, the fight is over! Follow this recipe and the results will amaze you.

Perfect Chicken

Pound chicken breasts to the same height with the handle or flat of a knife. Heat sauté pan on Medium High heat. When hot, add dash of olive oil and a scoop of butter and swirl then around in pan. Lower heat to medium and add chicken breasts.
Feisty note: I generally like to marinate my meat, but if you don’t have the time, season with salt, pepper and whatever else you want to use. Chopped rosemary is a favorite of mine and is very easy to grow.
Sauté chicken for one minute to brown. Flip over, then cover pan and set heat to Low. Now for the trick: set timer for 10 minutes and DO NOT TOUCH. Leave it to cook and walk away. When timer goes off, turn off heat and let sit for another 10 minutes.
Cut into it if you must, but I’m telling you–I’ve tried this twice and it works amazingly. Now all I need is a perfect steak method…

Love, Feisty

Home Cooking

This past week, I’ve ended up having breakfast burritos for dinner twice.  Maybe that doesn’t sound weird to you, but I usually don’t like to repeat dinner items during the week.  I’m not going to have a burger on Tuesday and be in the mood for a burger again on Thursday, you know?  Not so with the breakfast burrito, not so.

I decided to update the breakfast burrito of my past, Dad’s simple scrambled eggs, bacon & cheese combination, by adding some veggies and some hashbrowns.  Oooooh boy, you are in for a treat!

What you will need:
2 saute pans
burrito-sized tortillas
eggs
bacon
hashbrowns/shredded potatoes
cheese
mushrooms
zucchini
onion

Anything you don’t like, want to change out, whatever; go ahead!  This isn’t a strict recipe, just my idea of a delicious breakfast burrito!

First, get your bacon frying in one of the saute pans.  I did 3 pieces of thick cut bacon for 2 people, which was more than enough.  For thinner pieces of bacon, you might want to do 2 per person.  If there’s leftovers, just eat them! 😉
While the bacon is frying, dice up your veggies until they are uniform in size, about small enough to be combined easily with the egg while not being too small they disappear.  You want to taste them!  The amounts are completely up to you.
When the bacon is about done, get your other saute pan on the heat and put some oil in there.  Once that’s heated, throw in your shredded potatoes to make the hashbrowns.  I am shamed to say we just bought some frozen shredded potatoes, which makes it a hell of a lot easier but not healthier.  I prefer to shred potatoes when making hashbrowns, but sometimes you want time on your side.
Get the potatoes cooking only when the bacon is done and out of the pan onto some paper towels.  Scoop out as much of the crud in the bacon pan as you can, reserving about a tablespoon (just eye it) of the bacon grease.  Get that back on the heat and add your veggies.  Cook them down for a minute or two and then throw your eggs in.  We did 4, 2 eggs per person, which worked out well.  We probably could’ve done 3 total!  I think we eat too much.
So, recap!  You are now cooking your eggs, stirring regularly to scramble them, while your potatoes are browning.  Flip the hashbrowns at some point, usually after 3-5 minutes.  The goal is to have everything cooking done at the same time.  In my house, THIS NEVER HAPPENS.  So don’t feel bad if it doesn’t happen for you.  Our eggs were always done first, but as long as something is hot in that burrito, it will all be hot.

Now, get your tortilla spread out and ready on your plate.  You could heat up the tortilla if you wanted to, but we didn’t bother.  Put the cheese down first.  Doesn’t matter what you use; Ryan and I are partial to Boar’s Head Chipotle Gouda right now, and that worked great!  Creamy & spicy, yummmmmm.

Once you have your cheese on your tortilla, start scooping the food in.  I like to add the eggs & veggies first, as the heat will melt the cheese.  Then add your hashbrowns, and finally, break the bacon into bite-size pieces as you place it in your burrito.  Wrap it all up (if you can!) and voila, a heavenly dish.  Good for dinner, or breakfast, I’m sure! 😉  The nice thing is it really doesn’t take that long to make.  No photos because we scarfed them up!!

tortillas!!!!!!!!!!!

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

I previously posted an easy recipe for tortillas, & it gets the job done.  But I’m here to tell you that I found a better one! It adds only 2 additional ingredients, & if some of your favorite moments are in the kitchen, you will have them.

INGREDIENTS:
3 c. flour
2 tsp. baking powder
1 tsp. salt
5 T. shortening/butter (can do any combination)
1.25 c. warm water
1 T. olive oil

Mix dry ingredients together.  Add shortening/butter (fat) & cut into dry ingredients with fork.  Add water with olive oil a little at a time.  Now, when I did this, I did not need all of the wet mix.  My dough was fine, and then once I added the last of the wet mix my dough became a soupy mess.  I had to keep adding flour to balance it out.  Make sure your dough is sticky but solid.

Knead dough for a few minutes (your hands will get messy!) and then roll into 12 evenly sized balls (flour your hands to make this easier).  Let dough rest for 10 minutes and then its time for tortilla cooking. O YA!
I roll out any dough I make with a wine bottle.  It magically works the exact same…;)  Get your pan to a nice MED-HIGH heat and once its hot, throw your first rolled out tortilla into the pan.  The trick here is to not let it cook too long.  I counted to 30 seconds for each side, which worked well for the first one.  After that, my pan got too hot so the tortillas did not come out as good.  Still delicious!  But my goal for these was to have soft, pliable tortillas.

Once you are ready with your first tortilla, wrap it in a towel to keep it soft.  I made 3 of the 12 and wrapped the rest for the freezer.  I have been freezing dough more often since it saves much better than making the whole thing & refrigerating it.

When it comes to these & most other recipes, you know its done when “it looks like food.”  If you are making tortillas, you have most likely had tortillas many times in your life & know exactly what they are supposed to look like.

Knowing how to make a basic recipe like this makes me feel so powerful, like I could eat even if all I had in the house was flour, salt & butter.  Being an educated chef is our weapon against being poor!! 🙂

love,
feisty

 

just call me the potato princess

When I was younger, I wasn’t a big fan of breakfast, and much preferred the hearty warmth of lunch & dinner.  Coming of age, being an alcoholic, & influence from Mr. Cacophony changed all that.  Add to that, my vicious Saturday night and a nice, hearty breakfast turned into a necessity this morning.  Bring on the eggs, bacon & home fries!!!

Now, everyone has their own image of a perfect breakfast.  Mine used to be the egg & cheese on an English muffin, but I’ve now moved on to the tastiness & heartiness of home fries.  My obsession reached its height at the home of Yorkshire Restaurant in Manassas.  Sadly, I have moved now, & can no longer take part in Yorkshire’s heavenly home fries.

Now, I don’t know how to make Yorkshire’s home fries, but I do now how to make some damn good ones.  Simple too.  Pair them with scrambled eggs, some turkey bacon, a glass of OJ & some red grapes, and you’ve got the Feisty breakfast of choice.

HOME FRIES!!

First, you are going to want to start with dicing your potatoes.  I use 2 red potatoes, which is a good helping for both Ryan & I.  You can certainly use white potatoes, just keep in mind how much you are making.

Dice them up, wash them & dry them off.  Of course, wash them before you dice them up too — I will scrub my potatoes and core the eyes out with my fingernails because i don’t have a peeler.

Add about 2 T. of olive oil to your saute pan (make sure you have a fitted lid for it!), and start to heat it up.  I think the original recipe called for butter, but I try not to cook with butter whenever possible.  Learn to love olive oil and you’ll start to prefer it.

 

 

 

Once your oil is hot, throw in your potatoes, and stir them up so they are nicely covered by the oil.  Sprinkle salt & pepper.  I do a healthy dose of pepper & then a pinch of salt, since the less salt, the better.

 

 

 


Top your pan with the lid, and set your timer for 10 minutes.

While our potatoes are sizzling away, its time to cut your onions!  I cut them big because you don’t want them to disappear once they’ve cooked.  I use white onion because I like their sweetness.  To each their own.  There’s no specific amount, just whatever looks like enough.

 

 

 

 

After the 10 minutes are up, take the lid off and stir your potatoes well.  You should see a nice browning on one side of every potato that touched the pan.  Yum!  Throw in your onions and stir so they are coated with the oil.

 

EDIT: I replaced the photo here with a more accurate photo of how the browning should look, hence why the potatoes and onions are different looking than the photos above.
Look at that crispy goodness!  Don’t be scared of the char — with home fries, the more char, the better they taste.

 

 

 

 

Cook 10 more minutes with the top on.  Make sure those onions get a nice char too!  Caramelized onions, mmmmmmm.

 

   Serve & scarf down!

 

 

 

You know when breakfast is also very good? Dinnertime.  You could probably even make these potatoes with dinner, they are so fuckin delicious.  I imagine throwing bacon in would be really delicious, or you could do any kind of veggie, like mushrooms, zucchini, peppers, etc.*  You know, I bet you could throw anything into these and they would be awesome.   GO CRAZY with it!

love,
feisty

*Cook bacon first and crumble.  Add to dish in last 30 seconds of cooking.  I added my mushrooms in the last 3 minutes of cooking.  Zucchini would need longer time, maybe 5 minutes.  Peppers are completely subjective, as it is up to you how cooked or raw you like your peppers to be.

a baker’s life for me

oh ho ho & a banana cookie!

i’ve decided that this blog needs a niche.  writing about my writing, which is a slow, painful process, is not enough to entertain the masses (ha!).  my other joys include gardening, which i am not very good at, drawing/creativity, which is displayed on here once in a while, and cooking, which i believe to be very good at.  as always, i’m still learning, but i can make most recipes & have them come out well…..most recipes (Lemony Goat Cheese Zucchini Pizza, I’m looking at you!).

however, that is the risk taken when trying a new recipe.  whoever wrote it may have had a different thing in mind, or different tastes.  that is why i have decided to post on recipes i have tried, and liked.  no more mysterious online chefs’ bullshit!  feisty will steer you in the right, delicious direction.

so today, may i present to you…..the banana cookie!

   INGREDIENTS:
1/2 c. butter at room temperature
1 c. sugar
1 egg at room temperature
1 c. mashed bananas (I used 2, which was plenty)
1 tsp. baking soda
2 c. flour
salt (pinch)
1/2 tsp. cinnamon (i threw in a bit extra bc i love cinnamon)
1 c. add-ons (nuts, chocolate chips, etc.)

 

now, if you like your cookies crispy, these are not for you.  if you like them thick, these are not for you.  if you like your cookies fluffy, kind of bread-y, then THESE ARE THE COOKIES FOR YOU!  after making them, i realized “they are like banana bread cookies.”  which you would think is weird, but its not.  however, i wouldn’t suggest skipping the add-on.  i think straight banana bread cookie with nothing to break it up would be boring.

ANYWAY, if you are ready for these babies, let’s begin! (sidenote: recipe yields 30 cookies)
Cream the butter & sugar together until light and fluffy.  Don’t make my mistake & use an insanely fast mixer to do this (at the first setting!!), because the sugar will go EVERYWHERE. not fun.  my mixer doesn’t like dry ingredients, it likes wet ones, & i realized this with this recipe.
Once your butter & sugar looks “light & fluffy” (and smells delicious!), add the egg & beat until, again, light & fluffy.  The mixer loves this combination.

Meanwhile, mix your mashed bananas with the baking soda & let it sit for 2 minutes.  the recipe told me that this will add the “rising” to the dough, which may explain the bread-like texture.  After sitting, mix the banana mixture in with the butter mixture.

Mix the flour, salt & cinnamon together in another bowl (i cleaned the banana bowl & used it again).  Sift into the banana/butter mixture.  And by sift, I mixed it together with a fork while I poured it in.  Mix until combined.

Now for the fun (easy) part!  Grab your cup of add-in (walnuts, pecans, chocolate chips….) and fold it in.  I used M&M’s!  Makes them tasty but not necessarily easy, but we’ll get to that later.  Once your mixture is together, its time to set up the pans.

 

 

 

 

 

 

Now, the directions said to dollop on to parchment paper laid out on your cookie sheet. parchment paper?!? feisty don’t need no stinkin parchment paper!  or maybe i did….i ended up using aluminum foil, and for the second batch, added some Pam-like spray (yes, Pam-like…i buy the knockoff).  they did stick to the foil, but i found they were much easier to remove when the M&M’s weren’t at the bottom of the cookie.  Cookies that had a flat bottom with no M&M’s came off the easiest.  of course, i was using a wiggly fork so maybe my methods are what caused me problems.

the nice thing about this recipe is these cookies don’t spread out as thin as possible…probably because of the banana & baking soda mixture, which causes it to rise while spreading.  this means you don’t have to put them super far from each other on the pan, which means more cookies!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!
they still need distance though, so maybe assume they will spread about an inch all the way around.
once your cookies are on the pan, place in a 350 degree oven for 11-13 minutes.  i preheated, and needed 11 minutes for smaller (toaster oven) pans, but did 12 minutes for my cookie sheet.

they kinda look like little biscuits, don’t they?

 

 

 

 

 

once baked to a golden brown (or whatever color you prefer), take out & let sit for a bit.  i have no patience for that, & did not let mine sit for long.  they are fine, but the bottoms are a little torn up, so maybe you should wait.  5 minutes would probably do.  once past, peel off (like i said, i used a fork…i have a spatula, but its thick, and not so good for lifting cookies…better for cooking breakfast foods 😀 ) & lay out on a wire rack.  it needs this time!  don’t skip the wire rack, or i’m pretty sure they would fall apart or stick together when stacked.  either way, let them cool completely.  i use my toaster oven rack, which is a perfect (albeit, tiny) wire rack.

…see?

 

 

 

 

 

my biggest issue with these were the M&M’s created holes in the bottom of the cookie, and they were dropping right out of those holes.  i used a combination of peanut butter M&M’s and regular, so maybe using those pb ones wasn’t the best idea.  they are bigger than the regular M&M’s, and definitely bigger than chocolate chips, or chopped walnuts, etc.  but darn it all if they are not delicious!  you wouldn’t think it, but that cinnamon packs a lot of flavor (i did use extra…), and mixed with bananas its quite scrumptious.  add in the crunch of a random peanut butter M&M, and my friend, you have AWESOMENESS.

Plus, since it makes 30 cookies, i saved (in the freezer) almost half the dough for another day of cookie baking.  honestly, i do not need 30 cookies in my house when there’s only one other person to eat them.  the last batch of cookies i made in their entirety, gave some away to ryan’s parents and one of his co-workers (he had a party i brought them to), and we still had them left over a month later and hard as rocks.  plus, i don’t need to stress about eating cookies that will “go bad” if we don’t finish them.  i don’t need to be forced to eat cookies!!

hope you enjoy, & let me know if you find something even tastier to throw into these!

love,
feisty

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